My name is Antoinette Datoc. I am a baseball mom. Today is the official start of high school baseball season. Do you know what that means? It’s crock pot season! Most people use crock pots in the fall and winter to slow cook those savory meals that appeal to the senses when dusk begins to fall earlier and earlier, and there’s a nip in the air that signals the end of summer. For most people, crock pot cooking goes hand in hand with things like changing leaves, pumpkins, and logs burning in fireplaces. For most people, eating crock pot meals means that autumn has arrived. I, however, am not “most people.” I am a baseball mom, and as such, crock pot meals symbolize something else for me. Simply put, crock pot season equals baseball season. That’s right. You say CROCK POT! I say PLAY BALL! CROCK POT! PLAY BALL! CROCK POT! PLAY BALL!
Now let me tell you, it’s really never NOT baseball season at my house. Somebody is always doing something to get better in some way at baseball. This has gone on every single day of every single year for the last 17 years (but who’s counting), but official baseball season is something completely different from every day baseball season. Official baseball season is when we baseball moms get to spend hours and hours of our time sitting in bleachers, watching our kids play ACTUAL GAMES against other teams (seven innings with no time limit, but again who’s counting). Do you know what that means? It means we are left with very little time to fulfill our primary maternal responsibility to prepare tasty, healthful dinners for our families. So right around the time when most other people are packing away their crock pots in anticipation of summer grilling, we baseball moms are setting our crock pots in their places of honor on kitchen counters, where they will stay until the last tournament game has been played in October. Right about now thousands of baseball moms are thumbing through crock pot cookbooks and preparing to swap favorite slow cooking recipes with one another during bleacher pre-game. Yes, this recipe swapping is part of the baseball mom’s bleacher pre-game ritual. We sit in the bleachers and have conversations that go something like this.
“What are you doing for dinner tonight?”
“I’ve got a pork tenderloin in the crock pot. How about you?”
“I’m making my own variation of the “Mustard Chicken and Bacon Casserole” from The Complete Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis*.”
“Really? Have you made it before?”
“No, but if it tastes as good as it smells, it’s going to be great.”
“Can I get that recipe from you?”
Following is the recipe for the meal that is cooking in my crock pot this very minute, as my nimble fingers type away on today’s column. It is the one I will share with my co-baseball moms during bleacher pre-game on this very day as we sit in joyful anticipation of the official first pitch of this official baseball season. Try it. You’ll like it.
1T olive oil
4 chicken thighs and 4 split chicken breasts (skin on)
14 slices of bacon
4 shallots, sliced
1 1/4 c. vegetable broth
2/3 c. dry red wine
2 T. flour
Brown chicken on all sides in olive oil in a large skillet. Remove chicken from skillet with a slotted spoon and put into crock pot. Add butter to skillet and melt. Saute’ shallots and bacon in skillet till cooked. Add flour and stir completely. Slowly stir in vegetable broth and wine, until liquid thickens. Pour sauce over chicken in crock pot and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.
My name is Antoinette Datoc. I am a baseball mom. Today is the official start of high school baseball season. I’ll see you in the bleachers.
Till tomorrow… Good night. Sleep tight.
*”Mustard Chicken and Bacon Casserole, p. 64, The Complete Slow Cooker, by Sara Lewis, Octopus Publishing Group, Ltd. 2010